In a game at Iowa State Saturday when the Wildcats were guilty than more penalties than usual (9 for 62 yards), and committed a turnover in the kicking game, Mr. Snyder and his band of padded and helmeted gladiators, again, found a way to win a one-possession game.
Kansas State 27, Iowa State 21.
Afterward, Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads said, “This was a standard Kansas State football game, coached by a legendary coach and quarterbacked by a great football player. It came down to which team executed better, and they executed better down the line.””
The Cyclones must think they are overdue for one of those close wins as the last five KSU-ISU games have each gone to the Wildcats by margins of 8, 1, 7, 7 and now 6 points.
But it’s not just Iowa State that Snyder and the ‘Cats frustrate to the highest degree in down-to-the-end games.
This year, K-State is 2-0 in close games with a five-point win, 24-19, over Oklahoma, and now a six-pointer against Iowa State, 27-21.
Last year K-State was 8-1 in games decided by seven points or less. Remember? Eastern Kentucky by 3, Miami by 4, Baylor by 1, Missouri by 7, Texas Tech by 7, Texas A&M by 3, Texas by 4 and Iowa State by 7.
To that success, Snyder says, “You’ve heard me address so many times the importance of the intrinsic values that have continued to grow and improve in the program from the first year, to the second, to the third, and now the fourth.
You have to have some of that to be able to finish games. You have to have the courage to do it, and the determination to go along with it. All of those elements have grown within our program.
“That’s my guess to the reason we’ve had the success in the close games,” Snyder said of his 15-4 record in games decided by seven points or less since his return three-plus years ago. “There’s a perseverance and mental toughness to this team.”
It was going into the game that Rhoads said, “The No. 1 way to win a football game is not to lose it. That’s Bill Snyder. They’ve been done it for years. If you start pressing and trying to find a way to win it, you’re going to get yourself in trouble because that’s when you are going to make a mistake when they aren’t making mistakes.”
He would go on to say, “I have a whole novel full of reasons that they are the smartest team in the Big 12. They just don’t lose football games. They make good decisions. You will struggle to find a finer-coached football team and a finer-prepared football team in the country.”
In Snyder’s 20-plus seasons as coach of the Wildcats, he is 42-29-1 in games decided by seven points or less.
Ironically, four of those losses – Marshall by 7, Texas by 4, Oklahoma State by 4 and Ohio State by 7 – came in the 2003 season when the Wildcats won the Big 12 Championship. And, unusual is the fact that the ‘Cats were just 1-2 in close games – a win over Colorado by 7 and losses to Texas A&M by 3 and Purdue by 3 – in that historic 1998 season when they were No. 1 in the nation at one point in the season.
And, how about this.
Collin Klein has quarterbacked the Wildcats to 10 wins – 10-1 – by seven points or less. By comparison, Jonathan Beasley was 6-1, Lynn Dickey 5-3, Chad May 4-2-1, Ell Roberson 3-8 and Michael Bishop 2-2.
The reason starts with character, plus Snyder says of Klein, “His mindset is the same all the time. He is focused, he understands what his responsibilities are and how he needs to handle those responsibilities.”
Rhoads went as far to call Klein “… an All-American my book. He doesn’t get the attention because he’s not as flashy and doesn’t put up the gaudy numbers, but he has a 6-0 football team.”